What is old is new again. A bet that has been popular in overseas horse racing for decades — the swinger or omni — has come to the shores of North America with Woodbine being the first to offer the wager.

Introduced to Woodbine Thoroughbred and Standardbred fans this past week, the $1 minimum wager — in which the player selects two horses to finish in any of the top three positions — has had a slow start. Pools have measured in the hundreds of dollars, rather than in the thousands and payoffs have been as low as $1.15 (in a five-horse field where the top two horses were first and second) but the swinger in the Pink Lloyd Stakes yesterday paid $74.80 when a 52-1 horse finished third and a 6-1 horse won.

Who’s most likely to bet the swinger?

  • Newbies and occasional bettors. It seems like a natural upgrade for the $2 show bettor. It’s more exciting than show and is easier to win than an exactor.
  • Immigrants who attended races in other countries where the bet is common.
  • Regular players who want to take a flier in wide-open races with large fields and possible longshots among the top three. Suddenly, the bombs-away horse that finishes third has extra value.

U.S. players take down big Woodbine pools

Two 20-cent tickets bet in the U.S. took down two big pools in the past four days at Woodbine:

  • On Saturday, a single ticket won the Power Pick-6 pool of $23,512 USD. According to Mark McKelvie, senior communications manager at Woodbine, a bettor playing out of the Arlington hub spent $230.40 on a wheel that had this number of horses starting in race 4: 4 x 4 x 3 x 4 x 2 x 3.

The winning prices of the six horses were $15.40, $60, $15, $4.30, $13.70 and $13.40.

Did the bettor (and perhaps you) bet the $60 filly, Crafty Oaks, in race 5 because of the “Closer Look” comment about her sire in the DRF? “The Big Beast has sired 22% debut winners,” it states. That’s huge. But my consultation of the DRF debut sire reports show The Big Beast has an overall 14 per cent debut rate although, in 2020, that soared to 31 per cent. Hmm. At any rate, that shows the value of investigating a first-time starter’s breeding.

  • On Thursday, June 1, the Jackpot Hi-5 of $51,597 USD in the final race was won with a 20-cent wheel costing $25. These were the horses in the five positions: 2,5,10,12/2,6,10/6,7,10/9,10,12/4,7,9. The favourite won the 10-horse race, followed by horses with odds of 22-1, 13-1, 7-1 and 4-1. The second-place and fourth-place finishers were first-time starters.

Here’s hoping your 20-cent ticket merits coverage in a future column!

ASD races tonight; adds Wednesday night racing

Assiniboia Downs, which races tonight at 7:30 p.m. CT, will add a third night of racing — Wednesday — to its 50-day meet. So the prairie track will race Monday to Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CT for the balance of the meet that concludes in September.

In the first four nights of the meet, 28 races in all, the two handicappers who co-host the ASD Live show at 6:45 p.m. CT at ASDowns.com have a strike rate of about one-third winners. Track announcer Kirt has been right 10 times, longtime player Stretch, nine times.